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On the trail of dirty money

Member: Nifa

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has seized an 8.9 carat Cartier diamond ring worth more than £1 million from the wife of an Azerbaijani banker. The ring, which was bought in Harrods in 2011 by Jahangir Hajiyev for his wife Zamira for £1,190,000 plus VAT, was seized at a London jewellers, where it had been taken for repair. The move is the latest in the UK’s first McMafia-style ‘dirty money’ investigation into Mr Hajiyev, the subject of the NCA’s first unexplained wealth order (UWO).

Mr Hajiyev’s wife has refused to explain the source of her wealth to the authorities and, if she continues to do so, she faces having her properties seized. These include an £11.5 million home in Knightsbridge and a £10.5 million golf and country club in Ascot. In addition to these assets, it was revealed in the High Court last year that she has spent £16,309,077.87 in Harrods in just over 10 years and has had access to a £33 million Gulfstream G550 jet.

According to the NCA, the source of the money to buy the ring needs further investigation but it is not the only asset to be investigated. The other UWO against her is for the property in Knightsbridge, which was bought by an offshore company, a common ploy for people trying to hide the identity of who funded the acquisition and the source of the funds.

The provenance of assets is often investigated by forensic accountants when money laundering is suspected.

Roger Isaacs, Partner at Milsted Langdon said: “This article highlights the effectiveness of forensic investigations in unearthing assets or acquisitions that have been financed through financial crime.

“If you feel you may have been the victim of financial crime that requires investigation contact us today at Milsted Langdon.”

Author: Roger Isaacs 21 January 2019

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